Continuous Positive Airway Pressure(CPAP) therapy is a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
If you have noticed any symptoms of sleep apnea or the doctor has diagnosed you with it, you may be asked to use a CPAP mask as a part of the treatment. This article will help you explore the best CPAP devices on the market right now. Read on to know more about sleep apnea and CPAP devices. Also, don’t forget to go through our comprehensive buying guide for a smarter purchase.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that involves the involuntary cessation of breathing during the night. In apnea, breathing is interrupted during sleep. It stops and starts repeatedly. The episodes of sleep apnea can last for 10 seconds or more and occur hundreds of times during the night.
Snoring happens to be the most common symptom of sleep apnea. But that doesn’t mean that all those who snore have sleep apnea. If your snoring is followed by silent breathing pauses and choking and gasping sounds, it could indicate sleep apnea. You should not delay your visit to the doctor if you suspect sleep apnea. Undiagnosed and untreated apnea can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive and behavioral disorders.
Continuous positive air pressure therapy is an excellent device for the treatment of all types of apnea. CPAP therapy is given with the help of a CPAP machine. The CPAP device sends a constant flow of pressurized air through the airways, thus preventing the throat from collapsing.
CPAP masks come in different styles, materials, shapes, sizes, and prices to cater to the needs of different individuals. These masks have been designed, keeping in mind the different head shapes, sleeping positions, and pressure needs.
Nasal CPAP Masks: Nasal CPAP masks are sometimes also referred to as oronasal or nasal cradle masks. They seal around your nose in the shape of a triangle and are held in position with the help of a headgear. These masks are designed just to cover the nose of the user. The triangular dome shape of the masks perfectly contours the entire nose of the person from the bridge up to the upper lip. These masks come in a variety of sizes and fits and include the following parts – frame, cushion, elbow port, and headgear.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks: These masks have the least contact points with your face. Unlike the nasal CPAP masks that cover your entire nose, these masks only cover your nostrils. They have a small cushion that just rests below your nose. The nasal plugs on the mask seal the openings of the nostrils to deliver pressurized air directly into the nose. The nasal pillow CPAP masks come with a nosepiece or nasal cushions, which help to keep the nose plugs comfortably and securely in place, and headgear to keep the frame in place by fastening it behind the ears. These CPAP masks are ideal for nose breathers and those who change their sleeping position a lot during the night.
Full Face CPAP Masks: Full Face CPAP masks are a perfect pick for those who breathe through their mouths or have some congestion or allergies. These masks supply air through both the mouth and the nose. They are ideal for back sleepers since the bulky design. These are not suitable for side sleepers or those who sleep on their stomachs. Full face masks are available in different shapes and sizes but tend to be bulkier and heavier than CPAP nasal masks. They are designed with the following components: frame, cushion, elbow port, and headgear.
Nasal CPAP Masks Vs. Full Face CPAP Masks Vs. Nasal Pillows
Types Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is mainly of three types:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), also known as hypopnea, is the most common type of sleep apnea that is believed to affect nearly 4% of men and 2% of women. It is caused by a partial or complete blockage of the airway passage during sleep.
When we sleep, our throat muscles relax, allowing the tongue and other fatty muscles to fall back into the airways and obstruct the airflow. The air is restricted from moving beyond the obstruction, which, in turn, reduces blood supply to the brain. This sends a signal to the brain to partially awaken from sleep and signal the body that it needs to breathe. This is followed by a loud gasping, choking, or snoring sounds.
Central Sleep Apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea happens to be a mechanical problem, whereas central sleep apnea (CSA) is more of a communication problem. In this condition, the brain fails to signal the muscles responsible for controlling breathing.
Central sleep apnea is much less common than obstructive sleep apnea. However, the symptoms of the former, for the most part, are the same as those of the latter. Central sleep apnea is common in those people who are seriously ill from other causes.
Complex Sleep Apnea: Complex sleep apnea, also known as mixed sleep apnea, is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Buying a CPAP mask is a crucial decision that is determined by several important factors. Take a look at our CPAP buying guide tunderstand what points you need to consider.
CPAP Mask Buying Guide
Here are a few considerations for CPAP mask shoppers:
Type Of Sleep Apnea: The first important factor on which your decision to buy a CPAP or BiPAP mask will depend on is the type of sleep apnea you are dealing with. People who have OSA are advised to use a CPAP mask, whereas those having CSA are advised to use a BiPAP mask. If CPAP therapy fails, a BiPAP mask can be used to treat OSA.
Breathing Habits: Your breathing habit is an essential determiner of the type of CPAP mask that you should buy. If you breathe through your nose, nasal CPAP masks and nasal pillow CPAP masks will work best for you. On the other hand, if you are a mouth breather or breathe both through your nose and mouth, you will need a full face mask.
Allergies: For people with allergies and congestion issues, a full face CPAP mask works the best. A nasal mask is an excellent choice for those with open, unobstructed nasal passages.
Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position is an essential variable while choosing a CPAP mask. A full face CPAP mask has a bulkier design and is only suitable for those who sleep on their backs. If you tend to change your sleeping position a lot during the night and prefer to sleep sideways or on your stomach, a nasal mask is a better choice as it allows you to sleep comfortably without knocking your mask out of place.
Pressure Range: People with apnea require an airflow that ranges between 6 and 14 cmH20. Though most CPAP machines are designed to deliver an airflow of anywhere from 4 to 20 cmH20, buyers should always research about the operating pressure range of the device they plan to buy to gauge whether it will meet their individual needs or not.
Comfort: Comfort is a crucial factor when choosing a CPAP mask. A full face CPAP mask may be the right choice for those who find the nasal or nasal cushion masks irritating their nostrils. For those who find a full face CPAP mask constricting, the nasal mask is the right choice.
Pressure Needs: For those who require low to moderate pressure levels, CPAP nasal pillow masks are an ideal choice. Whereas, for those who require high pressure, a nasal mask or a full face mask is a better choice.
The market is abounding with a wide range of CPAP masks for every type of sleeper. Choose one after consulting your doctor.
Are there any side effects of CPAP masks?
One of the most common side effects of CPAP machines is waking up with dry nose and congestion, which usually indicate a lack of humidification. Other less known side effects of CPAP mask include headaches in the morning, dry mouth, dry eyes, and bloating and gas.
How long does a CPAP mask last?
Even the best of CPAP masks require replacement, no matter how well you maintain them. Proper cleaning and maintenance can increase the life of the equipment, but it cannot be used forever. Replacement of the mask depends on many factors, some of which are functional, while others are a matter of personal choice.
A few factors you should consider while thinking about the replacement of your CPAP mask are the manufacturer’s warranty and maintenance of the device. If you hear a grinding noise during operation, it is an indication that the machine is about to stop working. Consult your supplier to ensure whether the replacement of the mask is required or not.
What is the cost of a CPAP machine?
A CPAP machine will cost you somewhere between $500 to $3000, with an average estimated price of $850.
Do insurance companies pay for CPAP machines?
CPAP is considered to be durable medical equipment and is covered under most insurance policies. You need to call your insurer to know the specifics of your coverage.
Do CPAP machines work?
Yes. When fitted and used properly, CPAP machines can be useful. If you commit to using it correctly for the whole night, the benefit is often very clear.